Yet another regular season is over. For the next four days, one of the ten teams that make up the Big East will put their will and skills to the test to become the thirty-seventh conference champion. For some, it might be a repeated trip to the top of the conference. For others, it could be their very first time. All we know is that it will be a sight to see, but before we get to the finale on Saturday we have to start with the opening round on Wednesday.
Wednesday night, festivities get underway with a slate of two games as St. John’s takes on Georgetown and Xavier plays DePaul. The clash between the Hoyas and the Red Storm will be their first Big East Tournament meeting since 2009 and the seventh in tournament history.
Heading into this game, St. John’s finished off their regular season in eighth place in the conference standings with a conference record of 7-11 and an overall mark of 13-18. On the reverse side of things is Georgetown who finished the regular season in 9th place with conference record of 5-13 and an overall mark of 14-17. At the moment, the series between these two teams this season is split with Georgetown winning the first game in Washington D.C. and St. John’s taking the second game in New York. A lot is on the line this game as it will decide not only will the winning of this game decide the season series between the two, but it could also potentially spark a run for the coming days.
How to Watch, Listen, or Stream
Game Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports 1 (Gus Johnson, Bill Raftery, and Lisa Byington)
Radio: 970 AM WNYM (St. John’s), 99.1 FM (Georgetown)
Stream: Fox Sports Go (Where Available)
Odds: Georgetown opens up as 2 point favorites against St. John’s per OddsShark
Record ATS: Georgetown (10-19), St. John’s (15-16)
O/U: The o/u for this game opened up at 153
From the inaugural tournament played in 1980 at the Providence Civic Center to now, St. John’s and Georgetown have played each other in a tournament game a total of six times with the Hoyas besting the Johnnies five out of those six times. The one time that St. John’s did manage to pull one over on Georgetown came in the first round of the 2009 Tournament. On that day St. John’s beat Georgetown by a score of 64-59. It was in the five times prior to 2009, though, that made this a thrilling match up as the Hoyas and Redmen, as they were then known, met four times in the semifinals and once in championship in the time span of 1980-1992. Three out of four of those semifinal games took place over a stretch from 1980-1984 with a championship meeting taking place the following season in 1985. The meeting for the ‘85 championship was the peak for the match up as earlier in the season saw the famous Sweater Game and later on following the championship game, both teams would meet again in the Final Four with Georgetown once again getting the better of the Johnnies.
Three Points of Interest
Stormy Shooting: There have been two St. John’s this season. One team who, on their pomp, can put on a demonstration in scoring with shots raining down with ease. Another team can find themselves in the midst of a storm as the shots raining down just do not hit or come too late. It could be the errors of youth as the Red Storm are still a relatively young team that is still in need to time to adjust from game to game. Most noticeable of which shows in coming off of a game where the Johnnies will have a hot hand, in their next game they will try to repeat that by going for the long shots instead of developing a rhythm and then building from that point onward. Despite this, the options are there for the Johnnies to put on a display.
At the center of St. John’s scoring options is a quartet of scorers who can put the peach in the peach basket. This quartet includes Shamorie Ponds (17.6 ppg), Marcus LoVett (16.4 ppg), Bashir Ahmed (13.4 ppg), and Federico Mussini (10.7 ppg). Ponds, in particular, is the anchor for this group, as his touch and scoring can give the Johnnies a nice boost in tough times. If St. John’s can get at least three of these four options going, then they will have a shot in this game. They just have to stay within the strengths of their game and try to avoid the mistakes that have put them off the track from game to game.
A Feast of Turnovers: Turnovers have been a feature in meetings between Georgetown and St. John’s this season. The two regular season games that the Hoyas and Red Storm played against each other featured a grand total of 62 turnovers. In the first game in DC, Georgetown committed 15 turnovers while St. John’s coughed up the ball 16 times. On the return leg in New York, Georgetown turned over the ball 22 times while St. John’s committed just nine turnovers. In both games, Georgetown’s L.J. Peak was one of the main culprits with a grand total of 10 turnovers committed over the span of those two games. This could be the tipping point for this game, as turnovers can influence the tempo of the game. For example, in the second game, St. John’s pressured the Hoyas early on that the lion’s share of Georgetown’s issues with the ball came in the first half allowing the Red Storm to capitalize.
Seeking Form: In the same vain as St. John’s in our first point, Georgetown is entering this game out of form. They have only won one game over the span of their last eight games to close out the season, among which includes a five game losing streak in the final stretch. They have been a wobbly team this season with stretches of wins and losses, but this final stretch to close out the season in the run up to the tournament has thrown the Hoyas for a loop. Another aspect is that John Thompson III not only needs to turn the tide on the form of his team but may also be running the risk of his career as well. For now, Georgetown needs a win that gives them confidence for potentially the rest of the Tournament. The good news is that they are playing a St. John’s team that is nearly as inconsistent.